A passenger walks in front of the tail of a Qantas plane at a terminal at Sydney airport.

Sydney - Struggling Australian carrier Qantas on Thursday said it will axe 5,000 jobs in a major restructure after posting a first-half net loss of Aus$235 million (R500 million).

The airline, battling record fuel costs and fierce competition from subsidised rivals, is working to slash costs by Aus$2 billion over three years.

Part of the restructure will see 5,000 full-time positions lost from its 32,000-strong workforce.

The carrier also flagged “significant changes” to its fleet plans and network, and a reduction in capital expenditure of Aus$1 billion across the next two financial years.

“We are facing some of the toughest conditions Qantas has ever seen,” chief executive Alan Joyce said.

“Hard decisions will be necessary to overcome the challenges we face and build a stronger business.”

Following a profit warning in December, Moody's and S&P both downgraded Qantas' credit rating to “junk” status, increasing the cost of financing for the carrier and restricting access for investors who do not put their money in lower-rated companies.

Qantas has since been working on its finances to convince the government it deserves a debt guarantee, and also lobbying Canberra for a relaxation of the Qantas Sale Act, which limits foreign ownership in the airline to 49 percent. - Sapa-AFP